There are plenty of decade retrospectives happening everywhere right now (including here), but we'd also like you to participate. Tell us about the best game you've seen in person this decade. Mine: Game 7, 2000 NHL Eastern Conference Finals.
I'm knocking out the 2008 Phillies World Series games I attended because that would be too obvious so instead, I'll go with hockey. I'm a completely fair-weathered Flyers fan and rarely acknowledge their existence until May. That year, however, I got on board a little earlier than usual after the team overcame Lindros' injury in March and then suddenly turned into the most dominating team in hockey for the rest of the season. They bashed through the first two rounds of the playoffs and then met up with the New Jersey Devils in for final round. They took a 3-1 lead in the series and me, bandwagoning and starved for a championship, plopped down a boatload of money I had no business plopping down for Game 1 Stanley Cup Finals tickets. The Devils bounced back and made it 3-3, which turned my Game 1 tickets into Game 7 tickets. For all the negativity and the championship drought the Philadelphia fans had been through so far, the city (or this year's Flyers fans, at least) were supremely confident. Game 7 was an encore and a chance to add more drama to inevitable victory. Losing, for once, seemed unthinkable.
Adding to the narrative was the anti-heroic return of Lindros, who was easily the most popular Philadelphia athlete throughout the 90s. His greatness was stunted by injuries and undermined without a Stanley Cup, but the overwhelming feelgoodism of that team had softened the fans' foolish animosity. For this series, his impact was Walt Frazier-esque.
So the First Union Center (the "F.U." Center, natch) was bursting that night, insanely loud during the escalator rides to the upper deck before the game, and by the time the first trickle of Slash's guitar riff on "Welcome To The Jungle" was played, the crowd noise made your spine hurt. This was aching-for-victory loud and it never stopped. That is until early in the first quarter when Lindros got the puck.
I was sitting in the second row on the upper deck directly behind the goal. A good vantage point section for most games, but for this one, it was the grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza. I don't remember if Lindros stole the puck or had it passed to him, I just remember being fixated on his movements, lurching toward the neutral zone. Even though he appeared more graceless and slower than usual, the aching-for-victory crowd willed him to split a couple of defenders and he seemed to have a breakaway opening but...
This was not only watching the end of the Flyers series, but it was the end of the Lindros era. In that 8 seconds all that unshakable faith during the playoff run just evaporated. From where I was sitting, it appeared his tongue was hanging out, like a dead horse. It turned out to be his mouth guard — his special mouth guard made to help with his concussion problem — and his head was just bobbing, bobbing, bobbing. It was so poetic and violent and sad and just all happened in seconds. It was still early when that hit happened, but it was as spirit-crushing as a game-winning goal. And just like that, inevitable victory became inevitable loss. Still, it was an astonishing game.
You guys go #iwasthere. We'll feature some of the best throughout the rest of the holidays.